Case Study: Improving Referral Coordination and Patient Satisfaction in a Multistate Community Primary Care System (AR/TN)


The Community Primary Care System faced the challenge of staff burnout and low patient satisfaction scoring (1.9 out of 5 cumulative ranking for 2020), which the client organization reported was significantly impacted by patient referrals perpetually backlogged by nearly 100 outgoing referrals per provider, and an average time from referral origination to fulfilment of >19 days. The organization also struggled with an administrative labor supply and a highly competitive market for staff retention, attrition, and recruitment, which was further exacerbated by the electronic health record (EHR) hindering timely and accurate clinical note completion and negatively impacting referral origination.

Diagnosis of the Problem

  • Provider burnout due to administrative burden and low patient satisfaction
  • Referrals being backlogged by nearly 100 per provider perpetually
  • Unskilled labor supply and highly competitive market for staff retention/attrition/recruitment

Solutions Deployed

  • IRIS Virtual Clinical Assistant™ program to ensure a highly robust clinical note integrated with concurrent referral processing
  • Referral Management automated algorithm initiated to help address referral backlog
  • Application Programming Interfaces (API) created within the EHR to create database preferences based on patient demographics to ensure accurate and appropriate referral automation

Results after 12 months

  • 96.2% of referrals, authorizations, and messages were completed within 24 hours after the implementation of the solution
  • The number of pending referrals decreased by 50% in the first month of implementation
  • The number of patient complaints related to administrative delays decreased by 70% in the first quarter after deployment
  • Cumulative patient satisfaction scoring improved to 2.6 out of 5 in 2021